The brine tank of your water softener is where the salt goes. When you open it up and look inside, you should only see salt. Yet, sometimes, you might see a standing body of water inside the tank. Why is that?
Well, a brine tank full of water might be due to salt that went bad, improper regeneration cycle settings, or a malfunction concerning the drain line, water flow, or the overall system.
In this article, we’re going to list every possible reason behind standing water in the brine tank and we’re going to provide easy solutions for each of these problems. Let’s go.
Why Is My Water Softener Full of Water?
Drain Lines Are Clogged
The salt inside the tank is for keeping the resin media charged, and to that end, a salt solution is transferred to the main softening unit via plastic drain lines. Sometimes, these lines get clogged with salt, so the water solution inside can’t be drained. Especially low-quality salt is more likely to clog drain lines and damage them.
To deal with this problem, remove the salt and flush the drain lines with water. If there are damaged lines, you should also replace them. Using better quality salt might be a good idea to prevent recurrences.
The Incoming Brine Line Is Disconnected or Connected Incorrectly
Water enters the brine tank through a brine line, and this line is controlled by a float valve (also known as a safety float) that automatically regulates the water flow. Similar to wafts in toilet tanks, it stops the flow of water once there’s enough water inside.
However, if the brine line isn’t properly connected to this valve or is disconnected, the valve can’t control the water flow. Thus, the tank gets filled with an amount of water that it’s not able to drain.
Therefore, you need to make sure that the brine tank is connected to the float valve.
The Safety Float Control Is Malfunctioning
As we said in the previous section, the float valve is responsible for shutting off the water flow once there’s enough water inside the tank. However, the controls of the valve might not recognize the water levels due to a malfunction. As a result, you’ll end up with a tank with either standing or overflowing water.
The safety float is inside a cylinder made of plastic, attached to the tank’s upper part. A small ball under the float moves up with water when the tank is being filled. When this ball reaches a certain level, the valve automatically shuts off.
However, over time, the safety float might be subject to mineral buildup and the ball might get stuck. So, it might be unable to stop the water flow and cause overflow.
To deal with that, open the lid on the cylinder carefully and gently lift the float out. Then, clean it with warm water for a minute or two to remove any buildup. After that, slowly move the float up and down to see whether the ball inside is moving freely.
If the ball starts moving freely, you can reattach it to its place. If it doesn’t, it’s better to contact the water softener company to see whether they can replace the malfunctioning parts.
Potential Reason #4: Drain Flow Control Valve Is Clogged
Similar to the float valve that controls incoming water levels, the brine tank also features a drain valve that does the same for the outgoing water. It automatically opens for the salt water to enter the main tank.
However, when this control valve is clogged, the salt water can’t make its way to the main tank, resulting in standing water in the brine tank.
It’s a common problem when there is an especially high ferric (solid) iron concentration in the water. Since it’s a kind of iron that can build up quite easily, it can also clog valves and lines in softening devices.
You can inspect the drain lines and valve and remove the buildup, but that’s not a long-term solution. If there’s too much iron in the water supply, installing an iron pre-filter might be a better idea since iron filters are more capable of removing iron than water softeners.
Salt Crusts Are Blocking the Water Flow
The screens or slots inside your brine tank should let water in and out when the valves allow them and retain the salt. However, salt that doesn’t dissolve completely in the water might form crusts or bridges, blocking the screens and the water flow.
The only way to deal with this particular problem is to open up the brine tank, remove whatever’s inside, and clean it thoroughly with water until there’s nothing left that can present an obstacle.
We recommend you only use high-quality salt to prevent further occurrences. Low-quality salt not only leads to potential problems but also reduces the efficiency of resin beads and the overall efficiency of the softening unit.
The Brine Injector Is Clogged
As you might have also observed, most parts of a water softening system can get clogged by mineral buildups. The brine injector that vacuums salt water from the brine tank to the main tank is one of those parts.
These injectors suck the brine through tiny holes inside them. However, being subject to salt and minerals might cause buildup inside this hole. As it’s already a small opening, any buildup will reduce the water flow and eventually stop it altogether, causing standing water inside the brine tank.
If there is a buildup inside the injector, you should clean it. Be wary, though; more often than not, the insides of these injectors are made of plastic, and cleaning with a sharp metal object like a needle might cause further damage. We recommend you use a toothpick.
The Brine Line Is Clogged
Yet another water softener component that can be clogged is the brine line (or tube) through which the salt water flows. Due to the buildup of debris or salt inside it, it might not allow enough water to pass through, causing a water accumulation in the tank.
In that case, disconnecting the brine tube and flushing it with pressurized warm water will be enough to remove the clogging buildup. If the tube is damaged irreparably, you need to replace it.
Regeneration Cycle Is Mistimed
The frequency of brine flow is called the regeneration cycle, and it varies depending on the water usage and the hardness. Although the regeneration should happen regularly and automatically, it can also be manually controlled (sometimes via a Bluetooth app provided by the companies), and therefore, it can be tampered with.
As a result, regeneration might take place when it shouldn’t and might not when it should, leading to standing water in the brine tank. So, check the regeneration settings of your softening device.
If you think that’s the problem, you may want to check out our article on the water softener regeneration process.
Piston Stack Is Damaged or Worn Out
A piston stack (also known as a spacer stack) in water softener systems controls the water flow in and out of the tank. This stack can be worn out due to overuse or damaged by dirt and sediment that have found their way to the softening unit.
That said, replacing piston stacks requires the help of a professional. If you attempt to do it yourself, you might cause further complications. Therefore, we recommend you contact the company and ask for assistance.
Additionally, you might install a sediment filter to prevent solid material from entering and damaging your device.
The System Itself Is Malfunctioning
You’ve eliminated all the possibilities above, but the problem remains unsolved? Well, despite all the big strides in technology, electronic systems that utilize circuit boards can still malfunction, and water softeners are no exception.
In case of a malfunctioning system (circuit board), you should contact a professional electrician, preferably referred to you by the manufacturer of your water softener.
The brine tank of a water softener might be full of water due to a clogged component, mistimed regeneration cycle settings, or a malfunction in the circuit board or piston stack.
Clogging problems are easy to identify and take care of. Just look at the brine and drain lines, brine injector, and control valves to see whether they’re clogged and remove the buildup.
Of course, if there’s any damage to any of these components, you should replace them. To prevent recurrences, consider installing a pre-filter that can remove contaminants that might cause buildups in your softening device.
A malfunction in the piston stack or circuit board, on the other hand, requires the assistance of professionals. So, it’s better to contact the device manufacturer and ask them for help.